US Election Insight Special – all you need to know from the land of the free and home of the brave
The eyes of the world are on the United States today as voters go to the polls to decide who will be the next American President and therefore the most powerful (wo)man in the free world. We’ll have a summary of the implications of the result for Scotland in this week’s Political Insider, but by way of an election day warm up, here’s a short overview of the story so far…
If there’s one thing America knows how to do, it’s Presidential elections. As much a part of the national psyche as apple pie, blue jeans and fireworks on the fourth of July, this latest campaign has been one of the most unconventional – and unpredictable – in recent history. Either veteran Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican businessman Donald Trump will wake up on Wednesday morning as president-elect – and even then, the story will only just be starting.
The talking points
Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State has dogged her since campaigning began. She was (again) cleared by the FBI over her actions, yet its impact and concerns relating to her perceived untrustworthiness may yet damage her on polling day. Questions also appeared about the role she played and extent to which she silenced a number of women who allegedly had affairs with her husband. This particular legacy of Bill’s isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Yet arguably, and despite the best efforts of the Republican Party strategists, all of her actions have been overshadowed by the crass, shoot-from-the-hip approach of one of America’s most powerful men: Donald Trump. Where to begin? From early calls to halt all Muslims coming into America to disparaging comments made about, err, large swathes of the population, Mr Trump has created controversy on an almost weekly basis. From sexual remarks made about women to calling Mexican immigrants ‘racists and criminals’, not to mention ongoing questioning about his business practices, it’s clear to see why he is one of the most disliked candidates in history. Yet surprisingly, this isn’t reflected in voter surveys, with Trump only trailing his rival by a couple of points in the final poll of polls.
Where they stand
The campaign has seen personality come before policy at times, but key proposals for the Democrats include tighter gun laws, job creation of 10m jobs by investing in renewable energy and small businesses, an increased position on the ground in Syria to fight ISIS and a review of international trade agreements. While immigration and the creation of a wall on the Mexican border has been Trump’s key issue, he has also claimed he will create 25m jobs, reduce the US corporate tax rate to 15% and increase relations with Russia.
And so to election night … what to look for
If you can stay up to 3am Wednesday you should know who has won. Republicans will count on winning Texas while California will see a Democrat victory, but the result of certain swing states will give a good picture of the way the vote will go. America by its very nature is politically mixed. A lot of west coast Democrats would be classed as far more small-c conservative than east coast Republicans and this is likely to show when the votes are counted. Clinton may attract Republican voters who are put off by Trump, most notably in Florida. Other key swing states include Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, as well as Virginia, where only 78 percent of Republicans back Trump. Arizona, which has been Republican in every election bar two since the war, was expected to see a Democrat win but now looks set to be Trump’s to lose.
The BBC will be covering it all and their extensive coverage is all anchored via its US Elections page here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/us2016
And amidst all the Presidential fuss, remember that the full House of Congress and a third of the Senate plus multiple Governorships are also up for election today. Even if Hillary wins, she could embark on her Presidency shackled to a hostile Republican Congress and – just maybe – also a Republican dominated Senate as well.
This election campaign has led to a number of Americans questioning where they really sit on the political spectrum. While leftist politics holds no ground in the U.S, Clinton is a slightly left of centre Democrat. Trump has steered the Republican Party further to the right, a move which will both attract new voters and see Republican stalwarts turn their back on the party.
The Perceptive team (well, two of us anyway) will be doing a late shift to savour results coming in live. Only the Land of the Free knows how to make election night such a theatrical spectacle.
Have a Good Day now.